“I am the vine, you are the branches… Apart from me, you can do nothing” – John 15:5
In just a little over a week of being present here in OTR, this verse alone has spoken so much truth into my life…
And… yes, in case you haven’t realized by now… I am alive and well, thank you very much (:
Adjusting to this new stage of life has been pretty alright for the most part, albeit challenging in some ways. For real though – major shout out to Esther Chailim and the OTR Staff/Interns for helping facilitate my transition here! I would definitely be way more lost than I already am if not for their invaluable guidance and wisdom … ^__^”
Physically, it’s been difficult getting sleep here so far. The living accommodations are actually quite nice here (which will definitely be cherished in the midst of all the chaos taking place outside the house)… but despite the natural cries of physical exhaustion to sleep, my mind remains wide awake. Maybe it’s the shock of everything; that this is indeed, very real… Even in brief victories of falling asleep on time, I don’t think a single night has actually gone by without me waking up in the middle of the night from strange, borderline-nightmarish dreams (Or perhaps it’s the 3 hour time difference between CA and OH that has really thrown me off). I do want to say it’s been getting slightly better… But meh, I’ll take what I can get. I have a whole year to adjust, so… I’m 97.6% certain that I’ll get my sleep down by then!
Sometimes I can’t feel my face when I’m wandering outside in the cold 10-30 degree weather… but last I checked, I am still intact as 100% human and 0% popsicle! Let’s pray that ratio stays constant throughout the winter (: – Another shout out to the Kairos College students & YAs for helping pitch in for some of my winter clothing, and mama Mendez for helping me shop for the rest! You guys are literally lifesavers.
Ministry-wise, it has actually been pretty slow so far. The holiday season is wrapping up, many of the church members are just getting back into town, and the schools (The elementary schools & U.Cincinnati) are barely returning from break this week. As thankful as I should be for coming in during a [relatively] easy period of time, I am definitely not giving enough credit to God for this blessing. I admit that I might have flown in with a subtle mentality to “get down to business” (disclaimer: I am not going to defeat the Huns) in the ministry. Whether it was lingering pride or the desire to just want to feel useful and/or significant, I was definitely speaking way too soon.
Not too much has happened from an objective viewpoint, but in the few moments that I’ve had so far to interact with the community during Street EV, work with the 8-11 y.o. boys during Sunday School, be enslaved to the demands of the Sato and Chung Babies (Yes, Jonah. That means you LOL), or
play with get schooled by the teenage boys in a friendly savage game of basketball (I was never that good at B-Ball anyway, so did I really stand any chance?), I really felt like my eyes were being opened to the reality of the state of my soul.
In reality, I realized that I am far more weak than I thought I was. Sure, I might be coming in with some talents and skill sets here and there, but I found myself feeling anxious; struggling to catch onto the rhythm of the community and the ministry here.
Granted, it’s only my first month and the ministry is still relatively new to me… but seriously! One week in and God has really shaken my core and humbled me. There are a lot of things here that I’m not used to – The demographic culture (the majority of the population here being African-American), but most of all… the ministry culture (heavily outreach-oriented, compared to previous churches where I was mostly involved in “inreach” ministry – ministering to people already within the church). Basically, if you were to summarize my life experiences on a hypothetical resume, outreach would be one of the very last things to appear on that list. In a worldly perspective, I would be very unfit for the task.
And a big part of why I was so hesitant to start the internship earlier than Summer 2017 was because I wanted to spend time working on myself & people skills before heading into an outreach-oriented environment. But who am I to say that I know exactly what’s best for me?
I’m once again humbled in the sense that… God can use even the ordinary people to do his extraordinary works. The best example that comes to mind is when God called upon Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt in the Book of Exodus. Moses wasn’t too pleased, and was rather reserved about his capabilities to lead an exodus…
Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” – Exodus 4:10-12 (NIV)
I have to constantly be reminded that I am not doing any of this of my own strength & abilities. God called me here in OTR earlier not because He thought I had the skills ready to go for ministry… but because this is perhaps the best place for me to grow in my intimacy and dependence on Him – to believe in my heart that truly, apart from Him… We can do nothing (see John 15:5 above). As Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians,
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength” – Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
As I continue to spend time here, one of the biggest questions that I’m reflecting on right now is… How can I orient my ministry to be led by the spirit, rather than by my own abilities? [Insert Jesus is the answer here]. But really, it’s something that I want to actively position my heart in prayer for! Speaking of prayer requests… Here are a couple of others:
- Sleep/Lifestyle – Sleep has been getting better to some extent, but at default, I’m not too much of a morning person. I’m finding myself to be pretty tired by almost every afternoon time. Pray that I can continue to adapt to the pacing and schedule here.
- Relationships – I was introduced to many new faces this past week – Church members, children, teenagers… As I’ve stated in a previous post, I’m exhausted from the idea of starting over – I can’t help but honestly compare my relationships here to the ones at home, and it’s an unfair comparison, really! Pray that I can be present in my relationships here and be intentional in building rapport with the members and kids.
And at the core of it all…
3. Patience – Good learning; Good relationships… they take time and thought. As much as I’d already like to be in a place where I feel confident in ministering to the community; comfortable with the people here; assertive in my role as a church member here, I need patience to take a step back, observe, and really focus more on my own personal relationship with God during this transitory period; patience to steadily build interpersonal relationships with others; patience to see how God will teach me and use me for His kingdom, and patience to trust that God’s timing is ultimately perfect.
All in all, so far, so good! Even in the hardships that I’m currently facing, I couldn’t be any more happier to be here (:
On another note, OTR Living Water Church is going away for a retreat this weekend with Pastor Sam of Catalyst Agape Center (New Jersey) as our guest speaker. We’re hoping it will be a refreshing time for LWC as we kick off the new year!
Thank you once again for joining me on this journey! (: More updates to come once ministry gets rolling this year!!!